New car registrations are also down 10.5% year-to-date following record first quarter in 2004. The diesel market, however, rose 3.5% in February to 28,208 units.
The Society of Motor Trader and Manufacturers predicted the March market would reach 437,000 units, worth around £5.9 billion
SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan, said, 'February is traditionally a slow month as new car buyers and the motor industry prepare for the surge that accompanies the March plate change. After last year's significant growth in the first quarter, we expect March registrations to fall by around six per cent. While this is lower than last year's record total, it still represents a new car market in good shape.'
The Ford Focus maintained the number one slot in the best seller's list in February.
In units registered, Vauxhall had the best February, taking 15.3% market share. The Astra took second spot in the best seller's list while the Zafira held a top 10 slot for the second month in succession. The Vectra reported its best performance in the top 10 since October 2002.
Both the sports and MPV sectors showed modest growth of around 2% in the year-to-date.
Diesel demand rose for the 53rd successive month in February 2005. The market rose by 3.5% to take a share of 36.6% over the year so far. The gains come on top of volumes that were up by a fifth in February 2004.
The Vauxhall Astra became the best selling diesel for the first time since June 2001. The Ford Mondeo is the best seller over the year-to-date. Last year's number one – the Ford Focus took fourth spot.